Early in my music-teaching career, I learned the “Thorna Rosa” circle game that reenacts the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty. I probably learned the game at a Children’s Music Network event, since that’s where I learn many of the songs that I sing with children, the ones I didn’t write.
In this game, participants gather in a circle. They are assigned different parts in the Sleeping Beauty story. In the original version, a “traditional” musical circle game with an unknown author, there are only three main characters, a princess, a witch and a prince. They enter the circle and play their parts. The remaining circle participants act as a “castle wall” that grows high with thorns, until the Prince magically breaks through after 100 years.
My problem with this game was that so many of the little girls wanted to play the princess. And then there was that awkward matter of the prince at the end, waking her up with a … what?
Then a fellow CMN member, Amy Conley, gave me an idea for a gender-neutral version. Instead of the “Princess,” the game could feature several children – of both genders – in the royal family, who all slept 100 years, and in the end, they could be saved by – magic UNICORNS!!!
“The Royal Children” was born. To add more members to the cast, my version also includes some dragons breathing fire (because lots of kids like to be dragons) and then, of course, there needs to be a knight to take care of the dragon problem. I also added a wizard who could accompany the evil witch who cast the spell, although I only put the witch in the recording because adding a wizard meant too many words to fit in the recorded verse.
When children play the game in my classrooms, they wave scarves of different colors. I usually use purple and royal blue for the children, green for the witches and wizards, orange and red for the dragons, yellow for the knight and pastel colors for the unicorns. I stay away from equating white or black with characters who are good or evil.
The recording came out in 2013 on my CD “Once Upon a Tune.” Why am I telling you this story now, when no children can play this circle game together?
Because it’s now a video, complete with my illustrations! I first featured it in my “Musical Fun – It’s Magic!” video a few weeks ago, but I’ve updated the video to feature a truly multi-ethnic cast, based on the children of many races and backgrounds who’ve acted out the story over the years. I hope many children enjoy watching it and acting out the story.